Nitric Oxide in Myogenesis and Therapeutic Muscle Repair
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- De Palma, C. & Clementi, E. Mol Neurobiol (2012) 46: 682. doi:10.1007/s12035-012-8311-8
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Nitric oxide is a short-lived intracellular and intercellular messenger. The first realisation that nitric oxide is important in physiology occurred in 1987 when its identity with the endothelium-derived relaxing factor was discovered. Subsequent studies have shown that nitric oxide possesses a number of physiological functions that are essential not only to vascular homeostasis but also to neurotransmission, such as in the processes of learning and memory and endocrine gland regulation, as well as inflammation and immune responses. The discovery in 1995 that a splice variant of the neuronal nitric oxide synthase is localised at the sarcolemma via the dystrophin–glycoprotein complex and of its displacement in Duchenne muscular dystrophy has stimulated a host of studies exploring the role of nitric oxide in skeletal muscle physiology. Recently, nitric oxide has emerged as a relevant messenger also of myogenesis that it regulates at several key steps, especially when the process is stimulated for muscle repair following acute and chronic muscle injuries. Here, we will review briefly the mechanisms and functions of nitric oxide in skeletal muscle and discuss its role in myogenesis, with specific attention to the promising nitric oxide-based approaches now being explored at the pre-clinical and clinical level for the therapy of muscular dystrophy.